Eighteen former Arizona Wildcats were lucky enough to finish the year on an NFL roster…only a handful (5) were fortunate enough to make it into the postseason…even less (3) will actually dress or play much.
While former Wildcat Rob Gronkowski and his New England Patriots teammates get to enjoy a week off, the Houston Texans and a pair of Arizona alums aren’t so lucky.
Wildcats fans will be particularly interested in the outcome of Saturday’s game between the Texans and Cincinnati Bengals…as a Houston W would pit Wildcat vs. Wildcats in the Divisional round.
OLB Brooks Reed #58
2012 stats: 12 games – 27 tackles (19 solo), 2.5 sacks, 3 pass def, forced fumble
Reed missed three and a half games with a groin injury that he retweaked last week in his return.
The second-year man missed the regular season finale but should be ready to go Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals after returning to practice Tuesday.
Reed was a menace last year as a rookie in the playoffs…registering 3.5 sacks, finishing tied for the league lead and forcing a fumble over two games…including 1 on those quarterback takedowns against the Bengals.
The Sabino High School alum hasn’t had the same impact rushing the passer as he did a season ago when he recorded six regular season sacks…but he has still been solid and key part of the Texans current and future success as the former second-round draft pick’s role continues to grow with the team.
What better time to get it going again than in the postseason?
DT Earl Mitchell #92
2012 stats: 16 games – 31 tackles (19 solo), 3 pass def, forced fumble
Having the most productive year of his three-year career, Mitchell continues to quietly go about his business up front as a backup nose tackle for one of the NFL’s better defenses.
The former Wildcat, beefed up to 300+ lbs. to better compete as a lineman in the 3-4 defense, but without losing the quickness that made him a third-round draft pick in 2010.
As a result, this year Mitchell has racked up the third-most snaps of any Texans' D-linemen, including three starts while starting NT Shaun Cody was out.
Mitchell finished with career-highs in tackles (31), pass breakups (3) and forced fumbles (1).
He’s still looking for that first sack of the season though.
The Houston native hasn’t quite shown enough yet to warrant a starting job, but a monster postseason along with his continued improvement heading into the final year of his deal could set him up nicely when 2014 free agency comes calling.